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New program aims to build support for kids in care

Published on

Tara Jeffrey

A pair of local service agencies is looking for volunteers to get a new initiative off the ground.

The Youth in Care Mentoring Program, launched by Big Brothers Big Sisters Sarnia-Lambton, in partnership with the Children’s Aid Society, aims to match youth aged 13 to 21 with adult mentors to build life skills and foster positive relationships.

“We noticed a gap for kids in care, who were in need of more supports,” said Tianna McAree, caseworker for the program, which is specifically geared toward youth who are Crown wards or society wards and living in foster care, group care or independently.

“Our mission is to build authentic relationships with youth — relationships that are built on consistency, respect, empathy, and that lead to a positive connection and well-being.”

Mentors must be 21 and over and are asked to commit to three to four hours, biweekly, with the one-on-one match for one year.

Suggested activities include going for coffee, hiking, cooking meals, arts and crafts, sports, and volunteering.

“Our mentors are screened and matched accordingly, and we really stress that they help with life skills — whether that be cooking a meal together or helping them access services in the community,” said McAree. “Just to be that extra support they can go to.”

McAree said a couple of matches are active and doing well, including Adam Kilner and his mentee, Reilly.

“We make it work around our busy schedules and it sort of weaves through our lives,” said Kilner, pointing to activities like kayaking, and trips to Canada’s Wonderland and Sarnia Escape. “We have both grown as people through this experience.”

McAree wants to spread the word to recruit more volunteers.

“Referrals come quite often. The problem is we don’t have enough mentors at this point,” she said. “We are also going to provide events throughout the year, to allow these relationships to progress.

“I’m just hoping the mentors can be great role models and help the mentees grow into successful adults,” she added. “With that extra support and reassurance.”

 

Anyone interested in getting involved can contact Big Brothers Big Sisters of Sarnia-Lambton at 519-336-0460.

 

 

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